Six people were killed after a dust storm resulted in multiple car crashes along Interstate 55 south of Springfield, Illinois, Monday (May 1). Illinois State Police reported the accidents were caused by “zero visibility” conditions as strong winds blew dust from farm fields across the highway.
A reported 72 vehicles were involved in the crash, including multiple semi-trailers. Authorities said 37 people were transported to area hospitals, ranging in age from two to 80.
“Our prayers go out to the families of the victims and to those who were injured in the accident, as well as our Illinois first responders who served at the scene,” said Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. The Baptist state convention is headquartered in Springfield, less than 20 miles north of Monday’s crash.
‘How quickly life as we know it can change’
“Yesterday’s accident is a sobering reminder of how quickly life as we know it can change,” Adams said. “It compels us as believers in Christ and as Illinois Baptists to embrace our mission field here in the Midwest, and seek ever more urgently to share the hope of Jesus Christ.”
Greg and Roslyn Alexander served with the International Mission Board before moving back to central Illinois, where Greg is director of missions for the Heartland Baptist Network. Their granddaughter, Hannah, was one of the people injured in the crash.
“She lost her glasses, phone, keys to her apartment, her car was totaled, and several days of work, but she is alive!” Roslyn said. “We are praising God.”
The name of one person killed was released Monday: 88-year-old Shirley Harper of Franklin, Wisconsin.
ISP reported that officials in Montgomery County, where the pileup occurred, are working to identify the other victims and notify their families. The stretch of Interstate 55 affected by the crash reopened Tuesday morning.